Mr. Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to participate in this important discussion.
I want to say hello to my almost three-year-old daughter, Gianna, who I believe is watching this back home. She is probably the only three year old in the country who watches CPAC on regular basis. Although when I told her yesterday that I would be giving a speech today, I think she thought we were going to the beach. Therefore, despite my excitement about being to speak today, she may be a bit disappointed.
In watching this debate today, I wonder if my three-year-old daughter may be a bit disappointed for a different reason. As parents, we all want to pass the best that we can on to our children in the context of our own individual families, but also in the context of social relations. We receive the goods of society from our parents and we pass them on to our children, hopefully improved or at least not diminished.
As Edmund Burke writes in Reflections on the Revolution in France: Society is “...a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born...Each contract of each particular state is but a clause in the great primaeval contract of eternal society”. He says later:
...one of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated is, lest the temporary possessors and life-renters in it...[should be mindful of] what is due to their posterity...should not think it among their rights to cut off the entail or commit waste on the inheritance by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society, hazarding to leave to those who come after them a ruin instead of an habitation...
We live here in a great country. We can and indeed we must be grateful for the goods of civilization that we have received from our predecessors. We have a duty to pass the goods of our civilization onto the next generation, socially, culturally, and fiscally. However, for reasons unknown to us, and perhaps even unknown to it, the government is betraying this sacred obligation by running massive, totally unnecessary, deficits, creating debts which our children and grandchildren will have to pay off. We are spending massive amounts of money today, and they will have to pay off these debts with interests.
The government is running deficits in spite of the fact that the economy is growing. The Liberals are running deficits not because of a financial crisis, but because the government felt that its only chance in the last election was to outflank the NDP on the far left. It was a cynical political game rooted in the narrow politics of the present, betraying the hard-learned lessons of the past when it comes to deficits and debt, and ignoring the needs of the future. The Liberals' cynical game was to say whatever they needed to say to get elected and let the future worry about itself.
How did the Liberals plan to satisfy all of their spending commitments and keep the deficit under $10 billion? They did not have a plan. Again, it was the narrow, cynical politics of the present, without regard for the lessons of the past or the needs of the future.
The Liberals promised three deficits of $10 billion each, but now we know that they may use up all $30 billion of that deficit commitment in year one. Even a $10 billion would add over $300 to my daughter's share of the debt. However important the needs of the present are, let us have enough regard for my daughter and her generation to pay for present needs with present dollars.
I think Canadians get this. They intuitively get the obligation that we have to generations past and to generations in the future. They get that it is wrong to burden future generations just so that we can have more right now.
Therefore, the Liberals are casting around for an excuse to run a massive, new, entirely pointless deficit. Their strategy is to claim that they were left with a deficit, in spite of clear evidence to the contrary from the Department of Finance and from the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Forgetting the past and ignoring the future, unfortunately, has become the Liberal way.
By contrast, it is important to highlight the realities of the previous Conservative government's very strong fiscal record, which demonstrates mindfulness of the past and the future, as well as the present. In our first years in office, our Conservative government ran significant surpluses, paid down debt, and cut taxes for middle and low-income Canadians. However, in late 2008, Canada was hit by the global financial crisis, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
At the time of the global financial crisis, the Liberals, then in opposition, presented none of their own plan for the economy. Sometimes they attacked our government for running deficits. At other times, they demanded bigger deficits. We did the responsible thing.